Hello, my dear readers! I’m currently in Germany and loving it so far. What constitutes a perfect day for me when I travel is a day that combines nature, history, walking/hiking to explore a new place somewhere off the beaten track. Well, a few days ago I did just that! The plus point is that the weather was foggy, cloudy and raining which added loads of magic to the whole day (see photos below). I went to explore the marvelous Schloss Drachenburg (aka Dragon Castle). Schloss Drachenburg is a particularly special place and I’ll explain why throughout this post. I also believe that the pictures and videos will reveal to you all the reasons why this place is so splendid. This fairy-tale castle stands high above the Rhein River on the Drachenfels “Dragon Rock”, situated in the middle of the beautiful siebengebirge “Seven Hills” landscape. The castle’s perfect location on the “Romantic Rhine” valley has long attracted travellers, poets and artists which found inspiration from this special place. Lord Byron, William Turner and Heinrich Heine are to name a few. It’s such an honour that those timeless artists were admiring the same castle exactly as I did.The castle is situated above the quiet town, Königswinter. It was so sleepy when we passed through the town to get to the Drachenfelsbahn (the historic rack railway) to enjoy a comfortable ride up to the castle. You can also enjoy climbing on foot to the castle and get glimpses of its beauty from between the trees.
As soon as you step out of the train station, there will be enough street signs guiding the way to the Drachenfelsbahn. The best ticket on offer was the 3 attractions 1 price ticket (costs €16 for adults and €8 for children). It included entrance to the Schloss Drachenburg, the Reptile Zoo in the Nibelungenhalle and riding the Drachenfels railway up and downhill to visit the mentioned attractions.
The first stop is the castle and you literally get off in the middle of breathtaking nature. It was more foggy due to the altitude, yet somehow more magical.
The front building has a beautiful symmetrical architecture. It was the first thing I noticed as I walked towards the entrance. This type of symmetrical proportions is known as Palladian architecture (inspired by the designs of the Venetian architect A.Palladio). It’s a highly common style in Europe and a presonal favourite of mine. The inner courtyard inside the front building is now covered with a glass roof and the space is being used as a cafe and a souvenir shop. A wonderful painting showing the Rhine River and Schloss Drachenburg covered one big wall in the courtyard area. Just outside the front building, in the misty fog, I barely spotted the castle’s beautiful silhouette due to the enveloping whiteness. The beautiful garden surrounding the schloss has colourful flowerbeds and perfectly trimmed lawns. The colours were so vibrant even the fog couldn’t dull them out!Schloss Drachenburg is known as “Neuschwanstein” of the Rhein region. It was built by a self-made man, the Baron Stephan Von Starter. He made his success and wealth in Paris working as a stock market analyst. The castle was amazingly erected in less than three years (from 1882-1884). Sadly, Baron Starter never lived in his dream castle. He continued to live in Paris until he passed away in 1902.
Crenellated towers tower up impressively in the sky. The castle looks very opulent in reality. Past the main entrance of Schloss Drachenburg, visitors will be welcomed by colourful stencilled paintings on the walls, rich decor and splendid furniture.
The Reception Hall has the most beautifully detailed, three-dimensional mahogany wooden ceiling I’ve ever seen in the many castles I’ve visited during my lifetime! It was PERFECT! The photo below doesn’t do it any justice. I was very mesmerized by it and so much in the moment that I needed to absorb its opulent beauty without thinking about how I’d capture it. I didn’t even realise the photo I captured (quickly!) was dark, unprofessional and basically dodgy. Wie schade! Adjacent to the Reception Hall was the Dining Room. Let’s just say that the interior decoration was so perfect in the Dining Room that I almost forgot about the fantastic Reception Hall. Every room I entered while at Schloss Drachenburg seemed to outdone the one I viewed before it. Every room was more remarkable in its design and rich decorations. The first thing that caught my eye in the Dining Room was the large buffet made and carved entirely out of wood. The fine woodwork in such castles is always extraordinary. In addition, one of the main features of the Dining Room is the lovely panoramic painting just above the buffet (see pictures below).
The “Library” and the “Billiard Room” were directly connected. The library like any other had a collection of books in a lovely cupboard and other decorative accessories. Beautiful room for reading indeed.
The Art Gallery is a long room/hall where a lot of light can come in. The windows originally had stained glass which was destroyed in the Second World War. Can you imagine all the coloured lights coming in through the stained glass if it hadn’t been destroyed? Two windows however were reconstructed with stained glass and portraying poets with their hometown crests.
Now comes my favourite part of the entire castle… The Main Stairwell. The Rosette window is the only window with stained glass that has been preserved until today. The stencilled paintings decorating the walls of the stairwell were painted back then by painters and artists from Munich’s prestigious Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Fine is an undertatement for such extraordinary art! Every scene and every painting tells a story. Truly and utterly remarkable.On the second floor, just up the stairwell, are the Private Residential Quarters. The bedrooms were spacious, richly decorated and had access to balconies (see below).
On the outside, the castle was still encircled by twilight. The fog hung heavy and it was eerily mysterious to walk around the grounds.
The castle has many sculptures all over. Gargoyles, mottos, crests and emblems. They all have meanings and present a certain purpose.In the photo above, the Dragon hangs above the Carriage Hall. The crest on top is Stephan von Starter’s.
Schloss Drachenburg was such an interesting, rich and special place. I thoroughly enjoyed spending my time there and therefore the lovely journey at Drachenburg won’t end on this post. There will be a second post hopefully soon. I’ve decided to split it up to do the place full justice. Enjoy the video below and stay tuned for more. Excited for all that’s yet to come.
Expect more photographs, hiking in the fog and reptiles. Yes! Reptiles.
To Be Continued…
With love as always,